April 2017 Lightning Round: Reasonable Doubt

A. Interesting goings-on at Slatestarcodex:

6. New moderation policy: I am getting very paranoid after the various physical and reputational attacks…

At least now we know Scott Alexander was never paranoid before, right?

In order to protect myself and non-anonymous readers of this blog…

How thoughtful, to protect the readers of his blog… 

I am banning the terms “human biodiversity” and “hbd” –

Okay, at least this isn’t an attempt to hide ideas or stifle disc-…

I will also be deleting without notice any comments that I consider to have too high a heat-to-light ratio, especially when they’re the easily-visible first comment in the thread.


I anticipate only having to do this very rarely.

Well, you heard the man — very rarely. We’ll hardly ever see a comment thread that has been purged of any discussion of biology or heredity. I guess Scott Alexander has been finding his “rational pursuit of the truth” schtick a bit exhausting of late?

I kid, I kid. I never read the comments at SSC; I stopped reading the comments on liberal blogs nearly a decade ago, back when I was still a staunch leftist myself. The blogosphere was started by a bunch of technologically-inclined nerds of all ideological persuasions. Then lefties and libertarians thought they might have a slightly better chance of getting laid if they brought women into their blogs and their blogrolls; thus began the long pressure campaign to get this new caste of techno-beta-orbiters to disassociate from anyone they disagreed with, and replace the principle of free exchange of ideas with the joint principles of (a) carefully-curated ornamental comment gardens and (b) real-world retaliation against unpopular opinions expressed online.

The real tell was that the prog/feminist comment moderation policy was always, and quite explicitly, targeted carefully at proficient and interesting disagreement. It was fine to post unpopular opinions that seemed bizarre or ludicrous: but those who made a special effort to find common ground with their rivals and show overlapping areas of concern were dubbed concern trolls. It was fine to vomit out a difficult position and then disappear forever; but a commenter who thoughtfully stuck around to see what objections other commenters raised and reflect on them or reply to them was abusing his commenting privileges.

The more carefully-curated the comments sections became, the more a blogger’s pet-commenters ignore refutation in favor of Bulverism. The leftist, you see, has little interest in truth. Replying to the content of an opponent’s thesis interests him only as way to shut his opponent up. Once a vague set of speech codes promises to shut up any “troll” whose insidious motives the bolshevik can identify, he can rely on his true strengths: mean-spirited ressentiment and scurrilous accusations.

The bottom line is that progressive blogs have had spectacularly boring comment sections for a long, long time. Boring even (especially?) to those who are leftist themselves. The monotony of progressivism leaves the Right well-positioned to win the meme war; and the explicit speech-codes that progressive Gleichstaltung imposes on already-dull fora like SSC catalyzes opposition from the earnest young men who would otherwise have been liberalism most principled defenders.

B. Speaking of human biodiversity, I recently stumbled across Akinokure’s discussion of r/K theory. There is a folk-theory on the right that liberals are r-selected rabbits and conservatives are K-selected wolves. Akinokure’s summary of the folk-theory:

>[L]iberals show the hallmarks of a group adapted to an environment that is abundant in resources relative to the number of individuals competing for them, where life is cheap and time horizons are short, and where thoughtless rapaciousness is the norm. That contrasts with conservatives, who are alleged to show the hallmarks of the opposite end, where resources are stretched thin, where time horizons are long, and where stewardship is deliberate.

As appealing as the rhetorical frame “We’re powerful wolves, you’re pathetic rabbits!” might be, the folk-theory is low on logic. Whether you look at (a) the environments in which conservative and liberal populations have been shaped, (b) the environments to which conservatives and liberals are attracted when they decide to move, or (c) the environments they are trying to create, the charge just doesn’t fit. The fit is even worse when you look at the various contrasts which define r- and K-selected populations one at a time. For the details, RTWT.

Since Akinokure has done a good job covering the bases, I will probably abandon my plans to write on r/K myself and simply point people to his post. (I might very briefly sketch out a few supplementary points on Monday or Tuesday. We’ll see.) I reject the accusation that sociobiology is the Freudianism of the right (cf. my comments in Carlsbad’s thread), but no one could possibly deny that there is some danger it could become so, and so we must do whatever we can to deflate flabby sociobiological thinking and find ways to spread the basic insights that will give scientific structure to popular prejudices.

C. I hope you all had fun at the Science March! I mean — you did go to the Science March, didn’t you? It’s not like you hate science or anything…

To help mark this solemn occasion:

Enjoy the rest of the cruelest month, everybody!


3 thoughts on “April 2017 Lightning Round: Reasonable Doubt

  1. That Akinokure article is truly hilarious. Anti-welfare is codeword for anti-white, apparently. Oh, and notice how at the end poor whites are simply described as being the “less fortunate among our in-group.” They’re not gypsy parasites, they’re just employing a stewardship strategy against resource scarcity! Oh, and the Reagan years being the peak of “individualist frontier conservatism.” A characterization straight out of some Jacobin mag columnist ranting and raving against the omnipresent neoliberal hegemony.

    Savage when you guys do it, noble when we do it. Is this your scientific confirmation of popular prejudices? “I wasn’t overthrowing legitimate authority, I was expressing my ethnic genetic interests!”

    The march of white dinduism goes on triumphantly, ever forward!

    But, we’ll have many opportunities to talk on various subjects. Thanks for linking to me and for being a good commentator.


    1. Every piece of writing should have a felicity in its phrasing and a precision in its claims appropriate to the subject matter. Whatever unique interpretation of Reaganism you have to offer, Carlsbad, drawing a connection between the geographic home of America’s conservative voting bloc and the principles of that bloc’s champion is 100% apposite.

      (What is particularly funny about your allergic reaction to Akinokure’s phrasing is that I expect he agrees with you more than you would suspect, Carlsbad – when it comes to interpreting the views of others on the right, you sometimes seem to care more about whether a given statement is “symptomatic” than whether it is correct…)


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